What are the fruits of repentance? Simply righteous deeds, holy deeds, godly deeds, transformed life. In Luke 3 we have the record of that very account of which I just quoted where the Pharisees came and approached again, as often they did, John the Baptist always wanting to parade their "piousity" and John says to them in verse 7 of Luke 3, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" What are you doing here, you snakes? "Bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance," he says. Where are those fruits? What are they? Verse 10, "The multitudes said, What do we do? What should we do? What are the fruits of repentance? He says, Let the man who has two tunics share with him who has none, let him who has food do likewise. Some tax gatherers came to be baptized, they said, Teacher, what do we do? What are the fruits of repentance? Collect no more than what you've been ordered to. Some of the soldiers came and said, Well, what do we do? And He said, Don't take money from anyone by force or accuse anyone falsely and be content with what your wages are." Pretty practical stuff, right?
You want to know where true repentance shows up? In the character of your daily living. Do you give your cloak to one who doesn't have one? Do you make sure you don't take anything from anyone that you don't deserve? You don't force people. You don't accuse people falsely. Are you content with whatever your wages are? That's where the genuineness of your repentance shows up. That's pretty mundane stuff, folks. And, beloved, I submit to you that no message that doesn't press for repentance can properly be called the gospel. Conversion to Jesus is more than a break with an old thought pattern, it's a new life...it's a new life.
Let me close with this last passage, Matthew 21:28, turn to it, please. So much to say...humph. Matthew 21:28, "What do you think?" Jesus said. Think this one through with me, will you? "A man had two sons. He came to the first, said, Son, go work today in the vineyard. And he answered and said, I will, sir. And he didn't go." You've got a son like that? "He came to the second, said the same thing. He said, I will not. Afterward, regretted what he said and went. Which of the two did the will of his father? The crowd said, The latter. Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, tax gatherers and harlots will get into the Kingdom of God before you."
Potent, my friend. Jesus describes two kinds of people, are you ready for this? People who pretend to be obedient but are actually rebels in their heart. They pretend to be obedient but they're rebels in their heart. And people who begin as rebels but do what? Repent. He told it for the benefit of the Pharisees who pretended to be obedient to God but were rebels in their hearts. And then there were the harlots and the tax gatherers who started out as rebels but repented.
There's no salvation apart from repentance. Let's bow together in prayer.
Father, give us an understanding of the call to repentance. My prayer right now is for anyone here who has pretended to be obedient but in the heart is a rebel, who says to God, "I will go" and does not. O God, transform that life, bring true repentance.
And I would pray tonight also for the tax gatherers and the harlots, the outcasts, the rebels who live in open rebellion against You, but are open to repentance. Move their hearts. Work that mighty gracious work of repentance in every needful life for Jesus' sake. In Jesus name Amen.